Germany is banning the sale of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and food containers, bringing it in line with a European Union directive intended to reduce the amount of plastic waste that pollutes the environment.

The Cabinet agreed on Wednesday to end the sale of plastics including single-use cutlery, plates, stirring sticks and balloon holders, as well as polystyrene cups and boxes by July 3 2021.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the move was part of an effort to move away from “throw-away culture”.

Up to 20% of rubbish collected in parks and other public places consists of single-use plastic, mainly polystyrene containers.

Plastic takes decades to degrade and microscopic particles have been found inside the bodies of fish, birds and other animals.

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